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The Courtesan and the Gigolo: The Murders in the Rue Montaigne and the Dark Side of Empire in Nineteenth-Century Paris

Tekijä: Aaron Freundschuh

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

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The intrigue began with a triple homicide in a luxury apartment building just steps from the Champs-Elyse?s, in March 1887. A high-class prostitute and two others, one of them a child, had been stabbed to death ?the latest in a string of unsolved murders targeting women of the Parisian demimonde. Newspapers eagerly reported the lurid details, and when the police arrested Enrico Pranzini, a charismatic and handsome Egyptian migrant, the story became an international sensation. As the case descended into scandal and papers fanned the flames of anti-immigrant politics, the investigation became thoroughly enmeshed with the crisis-driven political climate of the French Third Republic and the rise of xenophobic right-wing movements. Aaron Freundschuh's account of the "Pranzini Affair" recreates not just the intricacies of the investigation and the raucous courtroom trial, but also the jockeying for status among rival players ?reporters, police detectives, doctors, and magistrates ?who all stood to gain professional advantage and prestige. Freundschuh deftly weaves together the sensational details of the case with the social and political undercurrents of the time, arguing that the racially charged portrayal of Pranzini reflects a mounting anxiety about the colonial "Other" within France's own borders. Pranzini's case provides a window into a transformational decade for the history of immigration, nationalism, and empire in France.… (lisätietoja)
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Aaron Freundschuh explores the events of "L'affair Pranzini". Madame de Montilla, real name Marie Regnault, a well known and sought after courtesan is found brutally murdered, along with her housekeeper and the housekeeper's young daughter; there have been other unsolved murders of courtesans in recent times. After a number of (probably) false leads, suspicion falls on Enrico Pranzini, a young, handsome Italian / Egyptian, living off his charms.

Freundshuh explores the "demimonde" of late nineteenth century Paris, with its strict categorisation of courtesans, prostitutes (which Marie Ragnault certainly was not) and the newly emerging tribe of "gigolos" and, a now forgotten term, "gigolettes". He also explores the politics and changing social mores of the time, the moral panic around immigrants from the Empire (such as Pranzini) disrupting social norms, the amateurism of policing at the time, and the emerging profession of investigative journalism.

Pranzini, of course, never stood a chance. Arrested and convicted on what today would be considered very flimsy evidence. Undoubtedly his suave, sophisticated manner - and refusal, on grounds of chivalry, to reveal the identity of the lady with whom he spent the night of Ragnault's murder - generated hostility from press, public and the judiciary. There is no real reason to assume he was the culprit

The book is diligently researched, and yet there are a couple of omissions which are a little irritating. For example, Pranzini, we are told, was convicted on two of the three murder counts. This makes no sense; which murder was he not guilty of? On what basis can he be not guilty of? Who was assumed to be guilty?

Omissions like this rankle somewhat, but otherwise the book is highly recommended ( )
  Opinionated | May 8, 2023 |
This exercise in micro-history uses the 1887 murder of Madame de Montille (a successful professional sex-worker), and several members of her household, as a point of entry into examining politics, the police, and the rise of professional journalism in the France of the day. Much of this story actually involves Enrico Pranzini (the "gigolo" of the title), a somewhat sketchy individual who was just suspicious enough that his conviction and execution was railroaded through the French court system on the basis of very thin evidence, with his main crime being an outsider (an Egyptian of Italian descent) who could simply blend into French urban society. The most useful part of this book is probably the examination of the journalist Georges Grison, who became a bulldog in the service of French right-wing politics, having used the crime "beat" as a launching point for his career. ( )
  Shrike58 | Feb 23, 2023 |
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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The intrigue began with a triple homicide in a luxury apartment building just steps from the Champs-Elyse?s, in March 1887. A high-class prostitute and two others, one of them a child, had been stabbed to death ?the latest in a string of unsolved murders targeting women of the Parisian demimonde. Newspapers eagerly reported the lurid details, and when the police arrested Enrico Pranzini, a charismatic and handsome Egyptian migrant, the story became an international sensation. As the case descended into scandal and papers fanned the flames of anti-immigrant politics, the investigation became thoroughly enmeshed with the crisis-driven political climate of the French Third Republic and the rise of xenophobic right-wing movements. Aaron Freundschuh's account of the "Pranzini Affair" recreates not just the intricacies of the investigation and the raucous courtroom trial, but also the jockeying for status among rival players ?reporters, police detectives, doctors, and magistrates ?who all stood to gain professional advantage and prestige. Freundschuh deftly weaves together the sensational details of the case with the social and political undercurrents of the time, arguing that the racially charged portrayal of Pranzini reflects a mounting anxiety about the colonial "Other" within France's own borders. Pranzini's case provides a window into a transformational decade for the history of immigration, nationalism, and empire in France.

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